The Holy Spirit is listed among the three that bear witness in heaven, the other two being the Father and the Word (Son). Christians are somewhat divided as to how to view the Holy Spirit. Some see the Holy Spirit as the impersonal force or power of God that effects the will of God and empowers God’s people to accomplish tasks supernaturally. Others, however, see the Holy Spirit as a Divine Person, just as the Father and the Son. What’s the biblical view of the Holy Spirit? What’s the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son? We shall examine the Scriptures for a clearer understanding of the nature of the Holy Spirit and his relationship with the other members of the Divine Family.
1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (NKJV).
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (NKJV).
The Apostle John tells us in his first general Epistle that there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word (Son), and the Holy Spirit. We know the Father and the Word (Son) to be Divine Persons. If the Holy Spirit is classified along with them in this Divine Trinity, then he too must be a Divine Person! Also, we see the Lord Jesus commanding his disciples to baptise converted people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, imputing a name to the Holy Spirit as to a person! There is overwhelming evidence in the Scriptures to believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed a Divine Person, and not an impersonal force or power. The Holy Spirit is variously called advocate, comforter, helper, teacher, counsellor, and intercessor. The Spirit is said to make intercession for us in prayer the same way Christ makes intercessions for us with the Father. Surely an impersonal force cannot pray and make intercession? If he makes intercession for us like Christ, then he must be a person like Christ, for only people pray and make intercessions, not impersonal forces! Also, the Spirit speaks, directs, guides, instructs and leads. He can be grieved, made angry, lied against and insulted. He is also described as having a mind of his own, and gives people utterances and teaches them what to speak. He is called the Spirit of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and fear of the Lord. Above all, he is capable of having fellowship or communion with people. All these are personal qualities and attributes, and not the characteristics of an impersonal force. Jesus called the Holy Spirit another comforter just like himself, and used the personal pronouns “he” and “him” for the Holy Spirit. If he is like Jesus, then he has to be a person like Jesus too! Jesus isn’t an impersonal force and neither is the Holy Spirit! An impersonal force cannot be described with personal pronouns like “he” or “him”!
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you (AKJV).
Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (NKJV).
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (ESV).
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
1 Corinthians 2:10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God (AKJV).
The Acts 13:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
The Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
The Acts 13:3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
The Acts 13:4 Preaching in Cyprus
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus (NKJV).
The Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
The Acts 16:7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them (NKJV).
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption (AKJV).
Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Hebrews 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (ESV).
The Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
The Acts 5:4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God (ESV).
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (ESV).
Matthew 10:18 And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Matthew 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak.
Matthew 10:20 For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you (AKJV).
The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (NKJV).
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely (AKJV).
The Acts 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men seek you.
The Acts 10:20 Arise therefore, and get you down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them (AKJV).
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (ESV).
Now, having established that the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost or the Spirit of God, as he’s variously called, is a person and not an impersonal force, let’s go further by establishing the fact that he’s a distinct person from both the Father and the Son. We already saw, from the Scriptures above, the distinction made between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit by the Lord, in authorising baptism in the name of the three. The Apostle John already made it clear that there are three that bear witness in heaven- the Father, the Word (Son) and the Holy Spirit. That makes three divine persons in heaven, proving the Holy Spirit is a distinct and separate person from both the Father and the Son. Jesus equally told us that he would ask the Father to send down the Holy Spirit to his disciples, upon his ascension, to take over his place as comforter to his people, another proof of the separateness of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. Now, let’s look at some other Scriptures that show the separate, distinct and simultaneous existence of the three divine persons. At his baptism, while Jesus was coming out of the water, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove. While this was going on, the Father spoke at the same time from heaven, to acknowledge Jesus as his beloved Son. This is just one of several instances where the three members of the divine family were captured at the same time. There are also descriptions in the Scriptures of the Father sitting on the throne, the Holy Spirit before the throne and the Son appearing in the midst of the throne. The Apostle Paul also spoke of the various roles of each member of the divine family in the adminstration and operation of the gifts of the Spirit, as well as their combined roles in the benediction of God’s people.
Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
Matthew 3:14 John would have prevented him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answered him, Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented.
Matthew 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (ESV).
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Revelation 1:6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (AKJV).
Revelation 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Revelation 4:3 And he that sat was to look on like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald.
Revelation 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and on the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
Revelation 4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunder and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God (AKJV).
Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Revelation 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne (AKJV).
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all (AKJV).
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen (NKJV).
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (AKJV).
The Holy Spirit, like the Father and the Son, is divine. He too is God and should be reverenced, honoured and worshipped as God. He too has a divine nature like the Father and the Son. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, it was described as lying to God. The Father is Almighty God, while the Son and the Holy Spirit are God too, but subordinate to the Father. We see the Father sending both the Son and the Holy Spirit on assignments, and we see both obeying him. The Father is head of the Divine Family, with the Son and the Holy Spirit subject to him. All three are however united in purpose. They are not divided but are one. All have the same divine nature, having all proceeded from the Father. All are united in executing and enforcing the Father’s will and eternal purpose. The Holy Spirit is the personification of the Father’s Spirit, just as the Son is the personification of the Father’s Word. At what point the Holy Spirit was brought into existence by the Father, we don’t know, but it has to be in eternity past, before the foundation of the world, just like the Son. We know the Holy Spirit wasn’t self-existing like the Father, who is the only self-existent one. The Holy Spirit was already in existence before creation, in which he participated actively. In the creation of the universe and everything in it, the Holy Spirit was the enforcer of the Father’s will as spoken out by the Son, the Word of God. The Son would speak the word and the Spirit would enforce and bring it to pass. He is thus called the power of God, the hand of God and the finger of God, among other descriptions. He anointed and empowered servants of God in the Old Testament to carry out God’s will and perform miracles and signs and wonders. The Holy Spirit was in heaven with the Father when the Son was on earth during his incarnation. He brought about the immaculate conception of Jesus through the virgin birth. He anointed the Son and empowered him for his ministry and tasks. The Father raised the Son back to life through the Holy Spirit. When the Son ascended back to heaven after his death and resurrection, the Father sent down the Holy Spirit to earth, upon the Son’s request, to indwell and fill believers and to empower them to do God’s works, through the various gifts of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit continues to abide with believers on earth now while the Father and the Son are in heaven. He empowers, comforts, guides and leads believers into all truths and glorifies Jesus. That’s his ministry to the Church! Jesus also made us understand that the only unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. We should therefore be very careful how we speak about the Holy Spirit, for reviling and insulting him constitutes blasphemy against him, which is unpardonable.
1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (NKJV).
The Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
The Acts 5:4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (NKJV).
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters (AKJV).
Luke 11:19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.
Luke 11:20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come on you (AKJV).
Exodus 8:16 And the LORD said to Moses, Say to Aaron, Stretch out your rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
Exodus 8:17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
Exodus 8:18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice on man, and on beast.
Exodus 8:19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he listened not to them; as the LORD had said (AKJV).
Exodus 15:6 Your right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: your right hand, O LORD, has dashed in pieces the enemy (AKJV).
Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
Luke 1:27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
Luke 1:28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
Luke 1:29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Luke 1:30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
Luke 1:32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
Luke 1:33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (NKJV).
The Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (NKJV).
Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
Hebrews 2:4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (NKJV).
The Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (NKJV).
Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you (AKJV).
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
John 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
John 16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more;
John 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
John 16:12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
John 16:13 However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you (AKJV).
Matthew 12:31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
Matthew 12:32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come (NKJV).
In conclusion, from the overwhelming evidence of Scripture alone, we understand that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, and not an impersonal force. He’s the personification of the Spirit of God, just like Jesus Christ is the personification of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is a separate and distinct person from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit, being of the same divine nature as the Father and the Son, is also divine, and deserves the honour, reverence and worship due other members of the divine Family– the Father and the Son. The three are united in purpose and will, with both the Son and the Holy Spirit subordinate to the Father who alone is Almighty, and who is Father and God to both the Son and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit existed with the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world, and was the enforcer of the spoken Word of God in bringing about creation. The Spirit is variously referred to as the finger of God, the hand of God and the power of God, with respect to his role in effecting and enforcing the divine will. He anointed and empowered servants of God in the Old Testament to do God’s works and perform signs and wonders and miracles. He effected the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ, and anointed and empowered the man Jesus to go about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. He was also the instrument of raising the Son from the dead. Upon Christ’s ascension, he sent down the Holy Spirit to his disciples, to fill, indwell, imbue and empower them to carry on with Christ’s work on earth. The Holy Spirit has been on earth since his coming down on the day of Pentecost, and serves as comforter, guide, teacher, leader and intercessor for believers, while the Father and the Son are in heaven. People should take care to honour and reverence the Holy Spirit, because blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.